People Still Talk on the Phone

There is a misconception in the technology podcasting circuit that I would like to take issue with. That belief is that people generally no longer talk on the phone. I have heard this on tech podcasts countless times in recent years. Inevitably, a guest host will ask, “Who actually talks on the phone anymore?” They are trying to sell the incorrect assumption that in the era of modern smartphones, that those phones are not used for voice calls anymore. When the question is asked, virtually everyone on the panel agrees that people don’t engage in voice calling anymore at all.

That is absurd. Everybody talks on the phone. Yes. Even in 2017. I certainly do myself. I also see it happening around me all the time. All the time!

The hosts of these tech shows are so out of touch with reality that it has begun to irritate me. They spend most of their days surrounded by others in the field of technology — talking with journalists and other podcasters about the latest and greatest thing, and what is coming next. They live in a bubble without much interaction from “normal” consumers or users.

These tech folks also tend to live in or around Silicon Valley, or elsewhere in California. The state in which these podcasters live, I believe, plays into their thinking that people don’t talk on the phone anymore. I will explain.

In California (and many other states) it is illegal to drive while talking on the phone without using a hands-free device. People are ticketed for holding a phone up to their ear while driving down the road. Where I live, it is not illegal to do that. In fact, here it is so common to see people talking on the phone in their car that I see it happening in close to half of the cars around me at any given time. That’s not even an exaggeration!

When I’m driving to work at 7:30 in the morning, nearly half of the drivers in traffic are holding a phone up to their ear. Who are they talking to at 7AM? I’d like to know the answer to that. If anyone called me at that hour, I wouldn’t even answer. That aside, my point is that I see people around me every day that are talking on the phone, and not just in their cars. People in my office often sit outside and talk on their phones during lunch every day.

In the real world, most people are talking on their phones, at least to some degree.

Some of these tech journalists and podcasters need to get out of their echo chambers and talk to some real people sometime. Better yet, call one of them on the phone. I bet they will be more than happy to talk.

Dishwashing the Keyboard

This post is long overdue. No one is going to read this, so I’ll give you the short, short version.

I spilled coffee into my keyboard. The right half stopped functioning.

I read blog posts insisting that you can put a keyboard in the dishwasher.

I did.

The left side continued working correctly after the wash, to my amazement, but it did not fix the problem.

The dishwasher miraculously didn’t damage the keyboard, but it didn’t fix the coffee corrupted problem, as I read that it would.

I bought a new one.

The end.

Fly By Night Computer Schools

I do a scan of the radio dial on my drive to work every morning. Most of the time I’m only hearing a bunch of commercials. I practically hear the same ones every day.

There are two computer schools that advertise regularly. I can’t quite determine if they are actual schools or simply some type of online course. It’s not a good sign that I’ve heard these commercials so many times, yet I still don’t know exactly what they are offering. The advertisements sound a little shady to me. They all sound like the empty promise of a get rich quick scheme.

One of these “schools” said that they had a student who enrolled in July and was already working in IT in August. Oh, come on. I don’t believe that. Another ad said a student was hired in the IT department of a large company only four months after being enrolled. That also sounds rather dubious. I doubt that any IT manger has even heard of these shady schools.

The ads don’t mention any specific course material. They’re very generic. There is no jargon spoken. It’s as if they are directing the ads at people who don’t even know how to use a computer, let alone program one. This is not an actual quote, but it’s as if they’re saying, “Hey, people who work in computers make good money, don’t you want to do that too?”

I’m not going to name the schools or point you to their websites because I don’t want to give them any publicity. I haven’t looked into them or visited their sites. I don’t care to. I’m basing my opinion solely on what I hear in the radio commercials. What I hear just sounds a little fishy.

If these schools were in strong demand and enrollment was high, they wouldn’t have to advertise on the radio every morning.

Worn iPhone Home Button Fix

Over last weekend, the home button on my iPhone started to become less responsive. By Sunday night, it had nearly stopped working entirely. To get it to work, I had to mash it hard with my thumb. The amount of pressure required was surely going to wear it out even faster. Double-tapping didn’t work at all. I was worried that my phone would soon be a goner. As it turns out, things aren’t so bad.

I still have an iPhone 5. I bought it 2 1/2 years ago. It has held up remarkably well over that time. It is in nearly flawless condition. I just entered my purchase date in an online date calculator, and it turns out that I have had the phone for a whopping 907 days. I’ve taken very good care of it. Fortunately, the battery also remains in great shape, despite years of usage.

Considering how well my phone as aged, I was disappointed when my home button began to flake out over the weekend. I went online and looked up potential home remedies to get it working again. I learned some interesting tricks.

If the home button is completely unusable, you can still use the phone by enabling AssistiveTouch, which is an Accessibility feature in iOS. You can find it in Settings > General > Accessibility. Once AssistiveTouch is turned on, a small circle will appear at the bottom right of the screen that allows you to use a virtual home button in place of the physical one. Cool!

Since my button was still working to some degree, I looked for a solution to repair it. I found a terrific page listing several such solutions. You can find that page here.

Last night I tried the solution of pressing and wiping around the home button with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. I didn’t seem to make any immediate difference. However, this morning, the home button was suddenly working perfectly again. It’s as good as new! Even the gentlest tap now elicits a response, and double-tapping works again as well. Problem solved!

If you are experiencing a similar problem, visit the link above and try one (or all) of those solutions. Hopefully one will get you up and running!

Searching For 60 Days From Today

I performed a Google search for the phrase: “What is 60 days from today?” I was hoping to see the date calculated and displayed at the top of the search results page, as is the case with math problems and measurement conversions. I didn’t see that.

What I got was some links to various unit converter sites, and a mere four results down, this gem from Ask.com: “60 days from a certain day will depend on when exactly that day is. A calendar will come in handy.” Thanks for that completely useless information.

Security Alert: Port 32764

SECURITY ALERT! Make sure that your Internet router isn’t exposing port 32764. It has been revealed to be a major security hazard, potentially leaking your router admin data and wireless encryption key to hackers. Use the link below to check your port status. Make sure the result on the probe below is STEALTH or CLOSED. If the result of the port scan is OPEN, you should log in to your router administration and change your settings to block that port immediately.

I’ve heard about this security alert two weeks in a row on one of my favorite podcasts, Security Now with Steve Gibson. If you want to hear the details, this was discussed on the latest episode 438. The conversation about this security alert begins at precisely 52:10 in the show.

Check your port: bit.ly/port32764

The Disconnects of a Forgotten Phone

Yesterday morning I rushed out the door and left my phone at home by mistake. I didn’t realize it until I was at work. Beyond the sheer inconvenience of not having it, I became a little worried because I was supposed to meet a friend after work, and the details were not finalized.

I have darted out the door without my phone a few times in the past, but I assumed I wouldn’t be completely disconnected. I can always access the Gmail and Google Voice websites from my work computer to email or text someone if I need to.

Not so fast! For security, I had recently enabled 2-factor authentication on my Google account. I hadn’t logged in to Google on my work computer in a while, so when I went to the Google Voice website to text my friend about my lack of a phone, I was hit with the 2nd-factor verification. Somewhere at home on my pillow, my lonely phone lit up with the code I needed to authenticate the untrusted computer. Crap. My security conscious nature had locked myself out of my own account, which included my personal contacts.

No worry, I figured. I could just dial my friend from my work phone and tell them my dilemma. Nope! I have no idea what their number is…or hardly anyones number for that matter. How many phone numbers do you know from memory these days?

This experience got me thinking about how I could better prepare myself for the next time that this inevitably happens, or worse, if my phone were lost or stolen.

Perhaps it would be a wise idea to simply print out a short list of phone numbers of important contacts and stick it in my wallet. If I don’t have my phone and need to actually dial someone, this could be a lifesaver.

Alternatively, if you are confident that you will have access to a computer of some sort, I suppose you could store important contact info in the cloud using a service like Evernote. I also found out that it is possible to print out a list of 2nd-factor authentication codes for your Google account in the instance that you lose access to your second device (phone.)

Either of the above alternatives are potentially good backup plans, but for simplicity sake, I like the list of printed phone numbers as a simple old school solution.